I wanted to end my jewelry coverage for this monster of a year with something that pointed to brighter days ahead. So I have been saving the new collection from New York–based jewelry line Elizabeth Moore for precisely this moment—called Eye of the Sun, it’s just the thing to usher us into 2021, with its sunbeams, luminous gold, and low-key, let’s-just-ease-into-this-shall-we elegance.
When brainstorming initial concepts for the collection, designer Elizabeth Compo, who founded Elizabeth Moore in 2014, used a quote by Victor Hugo as a touchstone: “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” It’s from Hugo’s novel Les Misérables, and the line also resurfaces in the Broadway musical of the same name (give the finale a listen—and bring a hankie).
“Before my jewelry life, I was a singer, and I have a degree in musical theater, so there is always music in my head and tied into my designs,” says Compo. “Les Mis was huge for me growing up. There are so many themes in that play that relate to where we are today—justice, love, redemption, resilience, progress—and when I was reminded of the quote, I thought it perfectly summed up my ideas for the collection and everything we were living through.”
Like many collections that debuted this year, Eye of the Sun draws on the cosmos for inspiration, and the full expression of the line came together during the quarantine period.
“The marquise stones were the beginning, and then came the varying sunbeams, but I didn’t want it to be a literal or obvious interpretation,” says Compo. “Our apartment has a lot of light, so while we were all shut in, having that connection to nature and the world was important. We had some amazing sunsets and moments in the light. During the beginning of the lockdown, at 7 pm every night there was a cheer with people banging on pots and pans outside the window in New York for our essential workers when the sun was starting to set, which was inspiring and healing.”
Until just a few years ago, Compo was designing things she wasn’t passionate about, and a light bulb went off at the close of a Metal & Smith show: She had more to say than her current work conveyed. At the start of 2020, she was ready to kick off a new direction for her brand—one that was a true representation of her and her values—even showing some new pieces at NY Now. And then, after all that momentum, she had to hit pause when the pandemic swept the industry with its crippling uncertainties.
It’s a scenario that many will find all too familiar.
“To see it all go away overnight was difficult,” she says. “I didn’t know how to reach out, how to connect, or how to keep my business moving forward. I felt immobilized, like a lot of people, especially combined with the daily adjustments of pandemic life in New York City. I realized I had to keep creating, reaching out, and connecting somehow every day, and that’s what I did. I had some amazing conversations with people I probably never would have reached out to in the past. Social media was great for that, too.”
So in many ways, Eye of the Sun is Compo’s re-entry (and it’s been well-received by retailers like the Conservatory).
“I’m feeling optimistic about 2021 and I’m so happy to have 2020 in the rear view, but I know how important it is to stay flexible,” she says. “I need to be flexible and creative if I want to keep growing. Clients are looking for more than just a pretty piece, so pieces with meaning and intent have been resonating with them.”
And that will be her focus going forward. It’s a fitting new chapter for a designer who has finally found her voice.
I hope we all find our voices anew in 2021, share our gifts with the world and one another, and turn our faces to the sun when it emerges from the dark. Do you hear the people sing/Lost in the valley of the night/It is the music of a people/Who are climbing to the light…
Top: Clockwise from left: Eye of the Sun three-drop earring in recycled 14k yellow gold with diamonds, $1,900 (also on model); Eye of the Sun in recycled 14k yellow gold diamond pendant, $1,145; Eye of the Sun tanzanite ring in 14k recycled yellow gold with diamonds, $2,980 (also on model)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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